Nathan Jones reveals first leg regret ahead of Southampton’s visit to Newcastle United

The Saints boss delivered a defiant message to his squad ahead of their visit to St James Park.
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Southampton manager Nathan Jones has hit out at claims his side are facing ‘Mission Impossible’ in their Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Newcastle United.

The Magpies will take a narrow advantage into Tuesday night’s St James Park clash after Joelinton grabbed the only goal of last week’s first leg on the South Coast. However, that doesn’t tell the full story of what was a keenly-contested 90 minutes where both sides had chances to get on top in the tie.

It is Eddie Howe’s side that will take the better form into the second leg after losing just two of their 27 games in all competitions so far this season. Progress has been built upon solid foundations with last week’s clean sheet at St Mary’s meaning United keeper Nick Pope has not conceded in his last ten games and will hope to keep his 17th shoutout of the campaign to secure Newcastle’s first major cup final since 1999.

Despite the odds seeming to go against his side, Saints boss Jones stated his players are ‘in good spirits’ ahead of their visit to Tyneside and he revealed he is looking for something they were lacking during their defeat in the first leg.

He said: “Newcastle are in wonderful form, clean sheets, good defensive record and one of the best keepers, in my opinion, in the Premier League. So it’s not mission impossible by a long chalk, it’s a game of football, anything can happen.

“What we have to do is be the best version of ourselves, that’s what we know we have to do. We have to be good, we have to have a game-plan and we have to execute it. Newcastle are in good form but they are not going to go the rest of their lives without getting beat and that is what we have to attempt to do.

“We go there in good spirits. We felt we played well in the first leg. If we’d had a bit more belief in the first-half and got things a bit more aggressive then it could have been something different. There are a lot of positives to come out of it so it’s definitely not mission impossible, it’s not even improbable. I think it’s really a cutely poised cup tie and that’s how we are treating it.”

Jones is expected to recall James Ward-Prowse, Gavin Bazunu and Mohammed Salisu after the trio were rested for Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round win against Championship club Blackpool